Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Historic Columbia River Highway

On Monday we moved our home to a park just outside of Portland, Oregon.  This coming week-end there will be a family wedding in Oregon City.  We have relatives in the city of Portland so this seemed a good spot to roost for awhile. 
We have traveled along the Columbia River Gorge several years ago when we were last in this area.  This time, however, we traveled on a different road to see the sights of the river valley.  For further orientation as to where we were; we traveled on U.S. Highway 30, driving from Portland east on the Oregon side of the river.  Our first stop was Chanticleer Point on Larch Mountain, where we had a wonderful vista of the Columbia River.  At one time this high point was the site of the Chanticleer Inn.  It was around the time of the turn of the last century when visionaries started thinking that the wonderful vistas of the Columbia River, as well as access to the largest concentration of waterfalls (77 all total on the Oregon side) should be available to travelers.  A highway was built and by 1920 the Columbia River Highway was dubbed the "King of Roads".  Roadhouses and inns were constructed to serve the travelers.  In 1916 Vista House was built in Crown Point State Park.  It was to serve as the gateway to the many Oregon State Park properties which dot the southern end of the Columbia River.   The stone building was constructed in the style of Tudor Gothic.  Inside are marble panels and stained glass windows.
In the building we also found volunteers willing to help us plan our trip through the gorge.  There were many waterfalls to see but it was getting late in the afternoon.  We learned that some of the waterfalls required a certain amount of hiking over steep rocky paths in order to get a good view of them.  We also received an interesting brochure describing the eight different forms of waterfalls.  Latourell Falls was our next stop.
This fall of water is described by waterfall watchers as having the form of a plunge.  The waterfall, which has a length of 249 feet, drops vertically and away from the cliffside, loosing contact with bedrock.  Multnomah Falls, the longest and most famous of all the falls, is also a plunge waterfall. Its upper falls has been measured at 542 feet, the lower part at 69 feet. 
We had our most strenuous hike of the day at Bridal Falls, pictured above.  It has a tiered form, described as separate falls that can be viewed all at once.  They fall, then fall again and again.  We also saw this form at Wahkeena Falls.  In case you are curious as to what the other waterfall forms are, they are known as the horsetail, fan, punchbowl, block, segmented, and  cascade.  I do believe that in our travels we have seen all of the forms.  Our day ended at Mulnomah Falls, where we enjoyed a delicious supper in a restaurant located at the foot of the falls.  Waterfalls aside, it had been a great drive along towering cliffs and through rows of massive trees whose branches touched each other as they stretched across the highway.

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